Individual Study / HEALTH ABC

Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study

Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study

Initiatives -
The main goals: * To assess the association of baseline body weight, lean body mass, body fat, and bone mineral content with incidence of functional limitation, incidence and change in severity of weight-related health conditions, recovery of physical function after an acute event, baseline measures of strength, fitness and physical performance, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic status; * To assess the contribution of episodes of severe acute illness in healthier older persons to changes in body weight, bone mineral content, lean body mass and body fat, and the relationship of these episodes to risk of functional limitation and recovery; * To assess the impact of weight-related comorbid illness on the risk of functional limitation and recovery; * To assess the ways in which physiologic mediators of change in body composition influence and are influenced by changes in health in older adults and contribute to change in body composition; * To understand how changes in body composition affect weight-related cardiovascular disease risk factors such as lipids, blood pressure and glucose tolerance; * To assess the interdependency of behavioral factors, such as nutrition and physical activity, co-morbid health conditions, and their association with change in body composition in old age; * To provide a firm scientific basis for understanding issues related to weight recommendations in old age through increased knowledge of the potential trade-offs between weight and risk of functional limitation, disability, morbidity and death; * To provide information critical for developing effective strategies for the maintenance of health in older persons.
Start Year
End Year
funded by NIAMS, the Cognitive Vitality Substudy which focused on maintenance of cognitive function with aging, and an energy expenditure study (funded by NIDDK with a follow-up funded by NIDDK, CDC, NIA and NIMHD), in which doubly-labeled water and resting metabolic rate were used to assess level of physical activity, pulmonary function measurement funded through an R01, and a peripheral nerve function study (with follow-up at Year 11 for the whole cohort (funded by an NIA RO1). An MRI of the brain and additional mobility assessment was added in a subgroup through a grant funded by an NIA K-award.


Investigators Contacts
  • Dr. Jingzhong Ding
    Wake Forest School of Medicine


Study design
Population cohort
Follow Up
Of the 3,075 participants enrolled, 1,803 participants had a both a baseline (1997–1998) and a valid 2002–2003 (5-year follow-up) CT scan. Between baseline and follow-up, 378 participants died and 589 participants were unable to attend the 2002–2003 exam.

Marker Paper

Santanasto, A. J., Goodpaster, B. H., Kritchevsky, S. B., Miljkovic, I., Satterfield, S., Schwartz, A. V., Cummings, S. R., Boudreau, R. M., Harris, T. B., & Newman, A. B. (2017). Body Composition Remodeling and Mortality: The Health Aging and Body Composition Study. The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences, 72(4), 513–519.

PUBMED 27567109


Sources of Recruitment
  • Individuals

Number of participants

Number of participants
Number of participants with biosamples
Supplementary Information
Aged 70-79 at baseline; 45 % of the women and 33 % of the men are African-American.


Availability of data and biosamples